5 ways to manage swollen legs and feet during pregnancy | Your Pregnancy Matters
What can we help you find?
Refine your search: Find a Doctor Search Conditions & Treatments Find a Location
Appointment New Patient Appointment or Call214-645-8300
Your Pregnancy Matters
September 14, 2021
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D. Obstetrics and Gynecology
The additional weight and hormones you experience during pregnancy can cause swelling and structural changes in your feet.
Of all the body parts you expect to get bigger during pregnancy, feet might not be at the top of your list. But most pregnant women experience swelling in their lower legs and feet.
If your ankles appear puffy and your shoes don’t feel quite right, you’re not imagining things. The additional fluid and blood your body creates to support healthy fetal growth also slows down blood circulation. That can cause blood to accumulate in your lower extremities, causing swelling.
During pregnancy, you also produce more relaxin, a hormone that helps your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles – you guessed it – relax. While relaxin helps your pelvis open to give birth, it also loosens the tendons and ligaments in your feet.
The combination of extra weight and hormones during pregnancy can cause your feet not only to widen but also flatten and lengthen. Leg or ankle swelling likely will decrease a week or two after your baby is born, but your feet may never be the same again.
Studies have shown that pregnancy can cause a permanent decrease in your arch and increase in foot length – typically only after a woman’s first pregnancy.
While more research is needed to determine whether these structural changes can be prevented, there are a few things you can do throughout your pregnancy to reduce swelling and feel more comfortable.
Coping with swollen legs and feet during pregnancy
1. Wear compression socks
Wearing 15-20mmHG compression socks that end at your knee can help alleviate achiness. The socks gradually increase pressure in your legs and move some of the excess fluid back into your blood vessels and the rest of your body.
Avoid socks with a tight band at the top. The tightness might worsen swelling by blocking blood return. That can increase your risk of developing a blood clot – which is already five times higher during pregnancy. You don’t need to purchase medical-grade socks, but you can find a good pair of compression socks for $10-$20.
Compression socks also can prevent the formation of new varicose veins, which occur in 15% of pregnant women for the same reason that causes swelling. The risk doubles after your first pregnancy and is four times higher in women over 35. These veins start out as little bumps under your skin; the socks squeeze them just enough to prevent backward blood flow and bulging. Existing varicose veins aren’t likely to shrink, but compression socks can reduce the pain and discomfort they cause.
2. Rest efficiently
You can easily improve blood circulation during downtime and sleep:
Elevate your legs above heart level while reading, watching TV, or doing other seated activities. The simple change in body position decreases pressure on your veins, which no longer have to work against gravity to send blood to your heart. Use cushions for comfort and elevate in 15- to 20-minute intervals a few times a day.
Sleep on your left side. While you can safely sleep on either side during pregnancy, the left side is often recommended to avoid putting pressure on the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from your lower extremities to your heart.
3. Get your feet wet
Immersing your feet and ankles in cool water for 20 minutes a few times a week can minimize swelling, whether you use a pool, bathtub, or even a large bowl. Bonus: It’s also a great way to deal with the Texas heat if you’re pregnant during the summer.
Be sure the water temperature is moderate and not ice cold. Cooler temperatures cause the smaller blood vessels close to your skin to constrict, which reduces blood flow to and swelling within the affected area. Water that is too cold can have the opposite effect. Whether you stand and sway or sit and dangle your feet, water therapy is a great way to relieve stress and pain.
Related reading: Water immersion during labor
4. Invest in supportive shoes that fit.
Unsupportive and uncomfortable shoes can cause even more leg and foot pain, plus backaches. Even if your feet return to their pre-pregnancy size, you’ll feel more comfortable in shoes that fit your feet and support your additional body weight. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends wearing shoes that:
Have a low heel but are not flat
Provide good arch support, such as athletic shoes
Many patients prefer shoes that have mesh, which allow their feet to breathe, and can easily slip on and off to limit bending over while pregnant. More shoe brands are merging comfort and style, so even the most fashionable patients will have no problem finding footwear they feel good about wearing.
5. Visit a podiatrist or pedicurist.
Another reason to wear shoes that fit: Stress from tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails, and so can infrequent nail trimming. In the first two trimesters you probably won’t have any difficulty trimming your toenails. But once you reach the third trimester, it might get more challenging.
Try propping up your feet on a stool or ask your partner to help trim your toenails. Nail salon gift cards are a great item to add to your baby shower (or sprinkle!) registry, too.
Seeing a podiatrist is another option to prevent or treat painful foot conditions, such as ingrown toenail, bunions, or plantar warts.
When swelling becomes serious
While gradual swelling in your lower and upper extremities is normal, sudden or severe swelling in your face, hands, or feet might be a symptom ofpreeclampsia. This pregnancy complication involves very high blood pressure.
If you have preeclampsia, you may need to stay in the hospital until you give birth. Delivery is the only way to “treat” preeclampsia. Left untreated, the condition can cause seizures, kidney or liver damage, and in rare cases, death.
Related reading: Postpartum hypertension: When a new mom's blood pressure is too high
Talk with your doctor about foot and leg swelling, as well as any other pregnancy symptoms. The more we know about your current condition, the more we can help reduce your risk of future complications.
While we can’t fully prevent foot and leg swelling, we can recommend ways to reduce your risk, such as:
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Discomfort during pregnancy is to be expected, but our goal is to partner with you to minimize it – as well as the risk of more serious conditions.
To discuss your pregnancy concerns or symptoms with an expert, call 214-645-8300 orrequest an appointment online.
More in: Your Pregnancy Matters
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D.
October 11, 2022
Prevention; Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.
October 4, 2022
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Meitra Doty, M. D.
September 27, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.
September 20, 2022
Men's Health; Women's Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Yair Lotan, M. D.
September 6, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
August 29, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Patricia Santiago-Munoz, M.D.
August 23, 2022
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
August 11, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Emily Adhikari, M. D.
August 2, 2022
Causes, Plus Treatments That Work
While you may be enjoying the magical time that is pregnancy — it truly is miraculous how many restroom trips you can squeeze into one day — and eagerly anticipating the arrival of your sweet little bundle, there are some less than magical side effects that many parents-to-be experience.
Your body is changing rapidly, which can get a little uncomfortable. One discomfort that many people experience during pregnancy is swollen feet.
Let’s talk about why your feet may swell during pregnancy, when you might notice this happening, when you should seek medical attention, and some simple treatments that can help.
While swollen feet may or may not be painful, they can certainly be uncomfortable or bothersome.
Fortunately, you can try several simple strategies to help ease your symptoms during pregnancy.
Even better? They may involve snacks, a cold drink, swimming, massage, and possibly shoe shopping. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
1. Reduce sodium intake
One way to reduce swelling during pregnancy is to limit your sodium (salt) intake. Salt makes your body hold on to extra water.
Try to avoid canned or processed foods, as these are especially high in sodium. Also, try not to put extra table salt on your food.
Using savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano is an easy way to add flavor to your recipes without using salt.
2. Increase potassium intake
Not getting enough potassium can also make swelling worse. This is because potassium helps your body balance the amount of fluids it holds onto.
Your prenatal vitamin should have some extra potassium for you, but it’s also important to eat good sources of dietary potassium.
Some foods that are naturally high in potassium include:
potatoes with the skin on
sweet potatoes, also with the skin on
some fruit juices, especially:
Reduce caffeine intake
While occasional caffeine during pregnancy isn’t harmful (and hey, a person’s gotta stay awake!), drinking too much caffeine isn’t considered great for a baby. It can also make swelling worse.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to pee more, which then makes your body think it needs to hold on to fluid.
Try a decaf coffee with milk or an herbal tea such as peppermint to help give you a little energy boost instead.
4. Drink more water
As strange as it sounds to drink more water to counteract swelling, it actually works. If your body thinks you’re dehydrated, it will hold on to even more fluid to try to compensate.
So try to drink at least 10 glasses of water every day to keep your kidneys flushing out the bad stuff and your body happily hydrated.
If it feels daunting to drink that much water, try getting a cute cup that you’ll want to keep refilling, or a giant water bottle that you’ll only have to refill a couple of times per day. You can also flavor your water with lemon, mint, or berries to make it more enjoyable.
5. Elevate your feet and rest
Even though you have a million things you want to get done before baby arrives, try to sit and put your feet up when possible.
While sitting all the time isn’t great for your circulation, standing all the time is also hard on your beautiful pregnant body.
Sitting with your feet elevated for a little while — especially at the end of the day — can help drain the fluid that’s been pooling in your legs over the course of the day.
6. Wear loose, comfortable clothing
Wearing tight clothing, especially around your wrists, waist, and ankles, can make swelling worse. Basically, it keeps blood from circulating as easily as it could.
Try to wear loose, comfortable clothes — or at least avoid tight elastic bands. Maternity maxi dresses in the summer and flowy cardigans or sweaters with joggers in the winter can be both cute and comfortable.
7. Stay cool
Especially if you’re pregnant during the hot summer months, staying indoors during the heat of the day and avoiding vigorous exercise can help keep you cool and reduce swelling.
You can also wear cool clothing, put cold compresses on your feet, or keep a fan nearby.
8. Wear waist-high compression stockings
Yes, these are just about as appealing as they sound. But if you’re experiencing persistently swollen feet or have to be on your feet most of the time, you can wear waist-high compression stockings.
These stockings gently squeeze your feet and legs to help keep fluid circulating. Try to avoid the knee-high compression stockings, as they may be too tight in the middle of your leg and actually make swelling worse.
Going for even a 5- or 10-minute walk a couple of times per day can help improve your circulation, which helps reduce swelling.
This can also be a good break in your day, and it’s a great way to get pregnancy-safe exercise.
10. Wear comfortable shoes
While you may look adorable in your high heels, late pregnancy is a good time to give them a break.
Wearing comfortable (even orthotic), well-fitting shoes is key to reducing foot swelling, as well as to preventing hip and back problems that can arise as your center of gravity shifts and your weight increases.
In addition to the swelling, the ligaments in your body (including your feet) actually do stretch during pregnancy, so your feet may change size. Some people’s feet return to their pre-pregnancy size, but many people find that their feet are permanently a half-size or so larger.
It may be annoying that one more thing is changing or that some of your beloved shoes no longer fit, but this is an excellent excuse to find some new favorites.
There are no studies proving that water pressure reduces swelling during pregnancy, but many people do find relief from swelling when they spend time in the pool.
Try standing or swimming in a pool where the water depth is almost up to your neck. At the very least, you will feel lighter and cooler, plus get a little exercise. You may also find that your feet and legs are less swollen.
12. Get a massage
Your partner may be looking for ways to be involved during the pregnancy process, and this is the perfect opportunity.
Massage helps circulate the fluids that tend to accumulate in your feet, which will in turn reduce swelling.
So grab your water bottle, put your feet up, and let your partner gently massage your feet and legs. Adding some peppermint or lavender essential oil can make this even more relaxing.
And if you’re rocking this pregnancy solo or your partner isn’t the touchy-feely type, many massage studios offer specialized prenatal massages. These can not only help with swelling, but are great for helping relieve some of the stress that can accompany pregnancy.
13. Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your left side when possible can improve blood flow, which reduces swelling of the feet. Lying on your left side takes the pressure of your uterus off of the inferior vena cava, which is the large blood vessel that returns blood to your heart.
When can you expect your feet to start puffing up? Well, the good news is that it’s usually later on in pregnancy. So you’ll likely recognize your feet for the first half or more of your pregnancy.
Rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone (literally “pro gestation” or “pro pregnancy”) slow your digestion down. This can cause abdominal bloating long before you have a noticeable baby bump.
You may also notice a bit of puffiness in your hands, feet, or face — but not much.
If you notice a lot of swelling this early on, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or bleeding, it’s best to call your doctor or birthing professional, such as a midwife.
The second trimester begins with week 14 of pregnancy, roughly the start of month 4. It’s not unusual to start noticing swollen feet around month 5 of pregnancy, especially if you’re on your feet a lot or the weather is hot.
This swelling is due to the increasing volume of blood and fluids in your body. Your blood volume increases by about 50 percent during the course of your pregnancy, and that’s paired with a lot of hormonal fluid retention.
While it may make your rings and shoes a little snug, all this extra fluid helps to soften your body and prepare it for giving birth — and that’s exactly what you want. Rest assured, the extra fluid will rapidly decrease in the days and weeks after your baby is born.
Starting with week 28 of pregnancy, the third trimester is by far the most common time to experience swollen feet.
Especially as the weeks go on and you get closer to week 40, your toes are more likely to resemble little sausages than anything else (yes, becoming a parent is glamorous).
Your body is continuing to build its supply of blood and fluids, which can contribute to swelling. Your uterus is also getting much heavier as your baby grows, which can slow blood flow from the legs back to the heart. (Don’t worry, this isn’t dangerous — just uncomfortable.)
Other factors that can contribute to swollen feet include:
not drinking enough water
being on your feet for long periods of time
Swollen feet are a very typical part of pregnancy, as many of your fellow pregnancy buddies can probably tell you! So most of the time, swollen feet are just another sign of all the hard work your body is doing to grow that new little life.
However, swollen feet can sometimes signal a more serious concern.
One of these concerns is called preeclampsia. This condition can develop during pregnancy and cause dangerously high blood pressure.
Call your birthing professional or doctor if you notice:
sudden swelling of your hands, feet, face, or around your eyes
swelling that gets dramatically worse
dizziness or blurred vision
a severe headache
abdominal pain, especially in the upper right section of your abdomen
If you notice swelling in just one leg that is also accompanied by pain, redness, or heat, this could mean you have a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a blood clot, usually in your leg.
It’s important to call your healthcare professional immediately if you notice these symptoms. This is because people are more likely to get blood clots during pregnancy than when not pregnant (thanks once again, hormones).
If you’re unsure whether your swelling is typical or have any concerns, it is always best to call your doctor or midwife. They’re happy to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy!
Swollen feet are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Swelling is caused by increased fluid volume in your body, as well as decreased circulation.
If you experience sudden or severe swelling, it’s important to call your doctor or birthing professional, as this may be a sign of something more serious. But a little swelling is definitely expected.
You can help prevent foot swelling by getting regular gentle exercise, drinking plenty of water, resting, and eating a balanced diet.
Before you know it, your shoes will fit again and the only feet you’ll be focusing on will be those tiny baby toes!
For more pregnancy guidance and weekly tips tailored to your due date, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.
Reduces legs during pregnancy: what to do?
Pregnancy is a time of waiting and doubts. Probably, women never have so many questions. Why does it bring her legs together so often? What to do if you wake up with cramps at night? How to deal with this scourge and avoid bouts of pain in the legs? We are looking for answers to these and other questions.
What are seizures?
Legs cramps not only during pregnancy, from time to time every person faces unpleasant painful cramps. A cramp is a sudden, uncontrollable muscle contraction that a person cannot relax. This condition can be caused by neurological disorders (for example, seizures are characteristic of epilepsy), a number of diseases (such as diabetes mellitus, osteochondrosis, and others), and can also be associated with physiological conditions. After all, convulsions occur, for example, after a strong overload, dehydration, hypothermia, etc. Sometimes cramps cause severe sharp pain. Sometimes it seems that the legs are pulling. During pregnancy, this condition, unfortunately, is noted quite regularly.
Why do pregnant women cramp their legs?
The mechanism of muscle contraction is quite complex, it involves different ions (charged particles): potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium. If we are talking about a cramp, that is, a condition when we cannot relax a muscle, then magnesium ions play a leading role here. It is their lack that leads to the fact that women cramp their calves during pregnancy at night.
The lack of minerals in the body of the expectant mother is simply explained: such consequences are the restructuring of metabolism and functioning in the "double load" mode. In particular, the expectant mother needs one and a half times more magnesium than usual.
In addition to helping muscles relax, magnesium is also involved in a number of important physiological processes. In particular, magnesium is needed to regulate the processes of formation and expenditure of energy, it is involved in several hundred enzymatic reactions, and if there is little magnesium, then disturbances can occur in the work of almost any body system. Therefore, if magnesium preparations are prescribed during pregnancy, this recommendation should not be ignored.
Why do pregnant women cramp their legs at night?
The answer to this question is very simple. The fact is that during the day the body of the expectant mother bears an increased load. And the longer the gestation period, the greater this load. Violation of blood circulation, increased stress on the muscles - all this can cause night cramps.
What should I do if my legs cramp during pregnancy?
To begin with, tell the doctor you are seeing about this. The magnesium preparations already mentioned, which he most likely recommends to you, can help solve the problem.
However, the reason that the expectant mother cramps her legs during pregnancy may be not only a metabolic disorder. Often muscle spasms begin as a result of varicose veins - the "faithful" companion of pregnancy. The veins of a woman carrying a baby are subject to increased stress. In addition, hormonal changes in the body seriously affect the state of blood vessels. All this contributes to the development of varicose veins. And a violation of the blood supply to the muscles of the legs, in turn, leads to convulsions.
If the expectant mother is faced with varicose veins, then the best prevention of its progression is to wear compression stockings selected by the doctor in accordance with the gestational age. You also need to give birth in stockings, so that during a particularly intense load on the veins to avoid worsening their condition.
It is important to remember that any discomfort in the well-being of a pregnant woman must be discussed with the doctor who is seeing the expectant mother. Even if the legs cramp infrequently, what to do during pregnancy should be determined by a specialist. This is the only way to avoid serious problems and ensure the health and comfort of both mother and child.
Causes of muscle pain - how to get rid of muscle pain
Muscle pain (myalgia) is pain in the muscles that can occur not only in a tense state, but also at rest. Pain sensations of a pulling or spastic nature can be localized in one part of the body or several at once.
Causes of muscle cramps after exercise
Discomfort due to pain in the shoulder, lower back, neck, or other parts of the body is a common occurrence when playing sports. Myalgia is often experienced by beginners who try to do a lot of exercises, barely starting classes. Experienced athletes are also susceptible to it, dramatically changing their training plan.
The causes of muscle pain in such cases lie in small ruptures of muscle fibers. Due to microscopic wounds, constantly increasing pain occurs in them. Intensive recovery begins in the body: protein is intensively synthesized and hormones are released.
Discomfort disappears after 2-3 weeks, when the athlete enters the rhythm and competently draws up a training program. But if the pain in the back and shoulder or in another area is sharp and throbbing, it is possible that the cause is an injury, so the athlete should consult a traumatologist.
Types of myalgia
Fibromyalgia. Arise in ligaments and tendons, appear in the neck, neck, lower back. Often manifested in women due to stress and men due to overload at work or in the gym.
Myositis - inflammation of muscle tissue. It occurs due to injuries, heavy physical exertion, complications after the flu. Such muscle pain is localized in the legs, arms, torso, increases with movement and is aching in nature. Most often, it is required to treat a leg or arm in a hospital setting.
Polymyositis. Serious illness. A person can have a severe pain in the neck, shoulders, then the pain passes to the pelvic girdle and legs. Sometimes leads to muscle dystrophy.
Muscle pain during pregnancy
During the period of expectation of a child, most women experience pain in the muscles. Moreover, if before pregnancy a woman was not engaged in maintaining a physical form, then they manifest themselves more strongly.
During pregnancy, muscles can hurt in different areas:
back - due to the load of the growing body;
abdomen due to painful muscle strains;
lower back - due to increased load from increasing weight and natural displacement of internal organs;
legs - the causes of pain in the legs are the same, pain is accompanied by cramps in the calves that develop at the beginning of sleep, at night or in the morning;
chest - under the influence of changes in hormonal balance, increased blood circulation;
vagina - under the influence of changes in venous hemodynamics, increased vascular load, decreased elasticity of muscle tissue.
Child's muscles hurt
Myalgia often manifests itself in children due to a lack of vitamins, calcium, magnesium in the body. It may be due to the fact that the child's bone skeleton grows, and the muscle tissues do not keep up with it and stretch.
If the child not only has pain in the legs or arms, but also the temperature has risen, swelling has appeared, it is urgent to consult a doctor to find out the cause of the disease. The doctor will prescribe treatment for muscle pain.
Treatment for muscle pain depends on the cause of the pain, so an accurate diagnosis is important.
Treatment of muscle pain in the back and other areas is carried out using the following methods:
To avoid such problems, you should follow the rules of prevention: a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, moderate physical activity, an ergonomic workplace, avoiding smoking and alcohol abuse.
Publication date: 09/21/2017 | Date of change: 02/25/2022
(Votes: 74, Rating: 3.36)
Return to list
Back pain is the second most common reason for visiting a doctor after respiratory diseases...
A periodontist works with diseases of the soft and bone tissues of the ligamentous apparatus, thanks to...
The childhood plus family clinic opened a dentistry department that provides in ...
Return to the list
Requires a nephrologist
Requires a dentist
Assistant, a dentist is required CHILDREN
04.10.2022Irina Andreevna Kozlova
I thank the ophthalmologist Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Kazakova for the quick and painless removal of the iron fragment stuck in the cornea, and especially for the kindness.